An F-16 pilot was spared an extremely dangerous landing in Islamic State (Isis) controlled territory by another plane's crew after his aircraft suffered a mid-air fuel malfunction. The quick thinking by a fellow pilot prevented the fighter pilot having to eject, risking an almost-certain grisly death at the hands of the brutal Isis (Daesh) regime.
The fighter jet had been attempting to refuel over IS-controlled territory, when the pilot realised the fighter could only take on 15-minutes' worth of fuel – nowhere near enough to get him to safety. But the accompanying US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker escorted the pilot back to base, while refuelling his plane every 15 minutes.
The US Air Force, who are currently leading Operation Inherent Resolve above the region, chose not to reveal the exact location of the mishap or what nation the pilot hailed from.
US Air Force commander Lt Col Eric Hallberg said according to Sky News: "Over 80% of his total fuel capability was trapped and unusable. Knowing the risks to their own safety, they put the life of the F-16 pilot first and made what could've been an international tragedy a feel-good news story.
"I'm sure they think it was not a big deal, however, that's because they never want the glory or fame."
According to the US military, the jet ran into trouble when it connected to the KC-135 but had to disconnect after taking on 500lbs of fuel, one-fifth of the 2,500lbs it should have received. When a second attempt failed the pilot discovered the fault.
If the pilot had landed in IS territory he may have had to endure a fate similar to that of Jordanian Moaz al-Kasasbeh whose execution shocked the world when he was apprehended by the extremists. The 26-year-old was doused in petrol and burned to death before being buried under rubble by a bulldozer.
The US-led bombing campaign has targeted IS facilities including oil fields, banks and military positions with more than 10,242 air strikes. The coalition lost one member this week as Canada decided to pull its fighter jets from the operation.